Community Shootaround: New Anti-Tampering Rules

Tampering has quietly existed in the NBA for decades, but teams, players and agents barely tried to hide it this summer. Several big-money contracts were announced shortly after the official start of free agency on June 30 that were obviously too complex to have been formed during the few minutes in which negotiations were legal.

Teams that lost stars complained loudly about the process, and the league decided action had to be taken. The NBA’s Board of Governors voted yesterday to adopt tough new rules, which include a fine of up to $10MM if it’s determined that “egregious” tampering has taken place.

Commissioner Adam Silver stressed that the penalties may not stop with fines. Suspensions of team executives, forfeiting draft picks and voiding contracts are all now on the table.

“We need to ensure that we’re creating a culture of compliance in this league,” Silver said. “Our teams want to know that they’re competing on a level playing field and frankly don’t want to feel disadvantaged if they are adhering to our existing rules.”

The league also has the authority to review cell phones and other electronic communication devices to look for evidence of tampering. That provision has raised the most concern among team officials, who fear that their privacy may be violated and sensitive information could be leaked.

This is hardly the first time the league has promised to crack down on tampering, but the tough talk has never made a difference in the past. Part of the problem is that many of the sales pitches made to players who are under contract come from other players, which the league acknowledges it can’t prevent. There’s no way to stop players at an All-Star Game or an international competition from talking about becoming NBA teammates some day. And the league can’t do anything if friends like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving make plans to join forces when they hit free agency at the same time.

Previous penalties for tampering have never been strong enough to scare teams. The Clippers and Nets, for instance, wouldn’t care how much they were fined or how many draft picks they had to surrender as long as they get to keep the new stars they added.

We want to get your input. Will these latest rules on tampering make a difference, or will business as usual continue behind the scenes? 

Head to our comment section below to share your feedback.

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10 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: New Anti-Tampering Rules

  1. x%sure

    It does seem a waste of “culture”, that teams that get it together without selfish stars (Nets & Clips), then succeed the most at recruiting them, putting that team culture at risk.
    A lot of nightclubs in the locale seems to help too, and an ocean.

    The Clips FO worked hard at recruiting while the Nets FO did not have to lift a finger. It probably didn’t matter much.

    Rules?– they can try, why not. Commissioner power lies in the desire of the plutocrats to self-regulate, and in players to unionize. Courts do respect a CBA.

    The best thing to do would be to raise the max salary level from 30 or 35 percent without raising the cap & tax lines. Let max-paying star-collectors wreck their rosters on their own. And make contracts shorter; players are not respecting their lengths.

    • LordBanana

      Just do away with the max contract, it makes stars cheap and mid-range players expensive. If you let the best players get paid what they’re worth it’ll be a lot harder for them to team up, and teams will stop giving guys like Ian Mahinmi and Ryan Anderson 15-20 million bucks.

  2. Simple Fan

    Ha now they’re tampering the same peoples’ phones. No all-star will ever live to have his career choices gotten in the way of if the team he wants was ‘tampering’. It’s an obsolete subject that only has to do with what teams do for rookies and unsigned rookie FAs. Announce the big money contracts first, then bug their phones.

  3. You want a penalty to have teeth? Don’t fine 10 million, take it off the team’s cap space.

  4. hondo17knew

    As a Celtic fan I was shocked to see Al Horford gone to the Sixers at the start of free agency.
    It was obvious how important he was to the team as he brought a complete talent package to the table. It didn’t appear the Celtics had opportunity to truly negotiate.
    Tampering, or whatever you want to call it stains the game. Rent a winner no matter what you have to do.
    I love this game.
    The integrity of it is going down the drain.

    • tharrie0820

      Wouldn’t they have had the entire season to negotiate if they wanted to?

    • x%sure

      The Celtics offer was way off the market, set by at least 2 teams. No way he was returning. Tatum was taking his preferred spot. There was no tampering, just a moving on.

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